One of the more interesting aspects of the NFL off-season to me is analyzing each individual position and then determining whether or not that particular position is in need of an upgrade.
So far, the Dallas Cowboys have done a pretty good job of filling holes through free agency, and with maybe the exception of defensive end and backup quarterback, there really aren’t any glaring needs to be addressed.
It seems as if a lot of focus has been placed on improving the secondary and figuring out the running back position, but I think another position could possibly be in need of an upgrade. We all witnessed firsthand last season, when Dez Bryant went down with an injury, exactly what the wide receiver position looks like, and I think we can all agree that we were left wanting more.
Bryant should be fully healthy and ready to go once the off-season activities kick off, but what about the rest of the receivers currently on the roster?
Let’s take a look at the depth chart as I see it:
|1. Dez Bryant||6’2″, 220 lbs.|
|2. Terrance Williams||6’2″, 208 lbs.|
|3. Cole Beasley||5’8″, 180 lbs.|
|4. Brice Butler||6’3″, 215 lbs.|
|5. Devin Street||6’3″, 200 lbs.|
|6. Lucky Whitehead||5’9″, 163 lbs.|
|7. Vince Mayle||6’2″, 224 lbs.|
|8. Rodney Smith||6’5″, 220 lbs.|
Obviously, Bryant is the #1 wide receiver on this team and a top 10 player at his position. It would probably be wise to take things slowly at first once OTAs and training camp is underway, just to make sure that he is fully recovered from his off-season foot surgery. There is no question about his status with the team or if he will be ready to go once the 2016 season kicks off.
Williams is the #2 wide receiver for the Cowboys, but his inconsistencies have been frustrating. Some games it looks as if he has finally put everything together, whereas others it looks as if he forgot that he was even on the field. Williams is in the last year of his rookie contract and the Cowboys could be looking for someone to challenge him for that #2 wide receiver spot.
Cole Beasley found a role for himself in the slot and to me has locked down that #3 spot on the depth chart. I don’t think he has to worry about his job because he has earned the trust of the coaching staff and Tony Romo. He has also proven himself to be a mismatch for opposing defenses, often times being the main target to convert in those third-down situations.
Brice Butler could possibly benefit the most from a full off-season working with a healthy Tony Romo, and as things stand now I have him slated as the #4 wide receiver. Butler showed flashes last season that he can be the deep threat that this team has been without for what seems like forever. He has natural hands to catch the ball away from his body and the speed to run past opposing corner backs. Look for Butler to challenge Williams for that #2 receiver spot if the Cowboys decide not to address the position through the draft.
Devin Street’s time with the Cowboys should probably come to an end. He hasn’t been able to prove he deserves playing time and the fact that he doesn’t contribute on special teams could mean he’s playing for a different team in 2016. Personally, I’ve seen enough of Street that I’m comfortable saying it’s time to move on.
Lucky Whitehead is an intriguing player because he can be a dangerous weapon in the open field, but because of his short stature he is best suited to play out of the slot, a position Cole Beasley has a firm grasp on. Like Street, Whitehead could be the low man on the totem pole if the Cowboys decide to draft a receiver, but because he could be the Cowboys main return man, he has a better chance to earn a roster spot.
Vince Mayle and Rodney Smith have the size that the Cowboys seem to covet in receivers, but they could be nothing more than camp bodies and would have a long uphill battle to even earn a spot on the practice squad.
A drafted rookie receiver just knocks them down another spot on the depth chart and all but eliminates them from making the team.
So, as you can see the Cowboys will more than likely try to upgrade the position through the draft and there are several players that could be of interest to them. It all depends on what round they choose to draft a receiver.
If the Cowboys do decide to draft a receiver, who do you want to see wearing a star on their helmet in 2016?